Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist of the Los Angeles rock band The Doors, died in a clinic in Germany on Monday after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to his publicist. He was 74.
One of the biggest selling bands of all time — and one of the most controversial — The Doors came together in 1965, after Manzarek moved to Los Angeles and recruited Jim Morrison to sing with his college band. Manzarek grew up on Chicago's south side and resisted piano lessons when he was young, until he heard Chicago blues and jazz on the radio. His keyboard playing on such Doors classics as "Light My Fire," "Riders on the Storm," "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" and more provided a blues and jazz counterpoint to Morrison's poetic swagger.
After Morrison died in 1971, The Doors recorded two albums with Manzarek singing some of the lead vocals, but the band eventually broke up. Manzarek recorded several solo albums; collaborated with poets and produced for other bands, including X, another trailblazing Los Angeles group. In 1998, Putnam published Manzarek's autobiography to critical acclaim, though Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors was more about Morrison than Manzarek. He also wrote two novels. In 2002, Manzarek reunited with The Doors' guitarist Robby Krieger to play the band's songs live.
On the night of Oct. 19, 1984, Erik Vogel was uneasy about flying. It was snowing; his plane's deicer and autopilot weren't working; and his co-pilot had been bumped to fit one more passenger on his 10-seater. But the young pilot was behind schedule and he felt like his job was on the line, so he took off, as he did most days, shuttling between the remote communities that dotted the Canadian wilderness.
Author Carol Shaben tells NPR's Steve Inskeep what happened next: "He's hearing these chunks of ice coming off the props and banging like rocks against the fuselage. And he made a calculation error. He thought he was past the high point but there was another rise of land, 2,500 feet, and he hit that top of that rise."
The plane crashed through a bank of trees and as the fuselage plowed into the ground, broken bits of plane sheared off the roof like a sardine can. Six people died in the crash, and four men emerged from the wreckage: Vogel; Shaben's father, a politician named Larry Shaben; a prisoner named Paul Archambault; and Scott Deschamps, the police officer who was escorting Archambault.
The men spent a frozen night shrouded by clouds and forest, wondering if they'd ever be found. Carol Shaben's new book, Into The Abyss, describes their struggle to survive. She and Deschamps discuss how a forest can be short on wood and how the survivors' lives changed after their rescue.
On the moment of the crash and what happened afterwards
Deschamps: "If you're driving down the road in a car, and you run off into the rough for a second, you hear that 'rrrghgh,' and you pull back onto the road. And that's what I heard. Just for a second, something rough. And I remember thinking the plane's not supposed to do that. And before I could even finish that thought, maybe a few seconds later, I just remember everything breaking apart. And that's the last I remember of the crash.
"Then I felt someone tugging on my foot. And it was Paul [Archambault]. And he had found me — he had come back to the plane to find me. There was great agony, with him pulling off chunks of plane before he even got to the dirt that encased me. And I was completely disoriented and I didn't know where I was or what had happened. And it took me probably 10 minutes before I realized the plane had crashed. And I can remember sitting in the plane. I remember looking out the open, broken fuselage at the snow falling and in the far distance I could see the glow of a fire. And we got by the fire and that's where we sat most of the night."
On the struggle to maintain the fire Archambault had started
Deschamps: "There's a forest of trees — trees, trees everywhere, but not a branch to burn. And that's the truth. You have no axe; you have no way of gathering wood; you can't find fallen wood because there's three and a half feet of snow. And we sent Paul on a constant vigilance for anything that would burn. Fire was life, Steve, fire was life, and at different times during the night we had no fire. And I've been on many search and rescue situations as a Mountie where you'd go into these camps looking for lost hunters or motor vehicle accidents in the back bush and you find the people, eventually, but you find them as frozen corpses. And I figured that's how we'd be found."
On how the crash affected the survivors
Shaben: "Each of the survivors was completely transfigured by what had happened that night, and all of their lives took sharp turns, if you will. Paul Archambault, who had a long prison record — who, you know, was an accused criminal, a drifter who had been drifting across the country since he was 15 or 16 — he went back. He got on a plane two days later and faced charges, faced a judge in court. And the judge said, 'You are to be commended for your actions and I exonerate you of all charges.' So this ne'er-do-well vagabond who'd had nothing but hard luck was all of a sudden hailed as a hero. So [his life] took a dramatic turn that way.
"... My dad was changed; he was a changed man. He began to look at his life and judge his worth as a man from that point forward, by what he accomplished in the extra years he felt he got that others on that plane did not. And he felt like the political life that he had been living, it wasn't enough; he needed to do more. And he floundered for a long time trying to figure out what that was. And after Sept. 11 he became very, very strident about trying to build bridges across cultures, trying to increase understanding and tolerance. And my dad created this incredible philanthropic life and this incredible legacy that I think was a greater tribute than his 16[-year] political career."
Deschamps: "I made a bucket list before bucket lists were made. I had a very profound list of things I wanted to do if I was ever going to get off that mountain. And, you know, there were 10 things, and it took — I just finished them. It took me 25 years to finally finish the last one.
"... One of the things that was most profound, and I voiced it at the time, was the fact that I was going to die on that stupid mountain and I never had a family. So I went forward very specifically to be a great parent. And I am; I have two wonderful children. I'd never been to university, so when I left the mounted police I did a bachelor's degree and I went on and I did a master's degree. And I had a whole bunch of other things. Now, I live in peace. And life is good."
Phil Jackson is famous not only for coaching stars — Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal with the L.A. Lakers — but also for his distinctive "zen" approach to basketball. He introduced his teams to yoga and meditation, and regularly assigned his players books to read.
Jackson once gave Shaquille O'Neal a copy of Siddhartha, a novel about a man's search for enlightenment. He joked that O'Neal should give him a book report — and then the star actually did did. His report? "Story about a young man who's rich, famous, good-looking and has a lot of women — just like me."
A focus on philosophy and fundamental skills pervades Jackson's new book, Eleven Rings, which was co-written with a man who once interviewed him for a Buddhist magazine. Revealingly, the 11 rings of the title are the ones his teams won under his leadership; Jackson doesn't include the two rings he won as a player for the New York Knicks.
Jackson joins NPR's Steve Inskeep to talk about a three-pointer he'll never forget, how to coach superstars while also cultivating team chemistry, and how he incorporated a lesson from a cellist on the court.
On Knicks coach Red Holzman's rules: See the ball. Hit the open man (that is, pass the ball)
"Defensively ... you have to be in a position so that you see the ball and your man. And in that process you can see if someone gets beat. You can see where the ball's at; if the ball's passed you have a chance to intercept it. You're alert enough to get there.
"The offensive end, rather than force things ... or try to beat your own man individually, if you hit the open man, good things are gonna happen in this game. ... That seems to be a premise that still holds true."
On a memorable last-minute shot
"That was in the finals, Chicago Bulls in 1993 versus the Phoenix Suns. And I'd rested Michael [Jordan] a considerable amount in the third quarter — kind of led to a slump in our offense — and we got him back in there and he scored a couple times, but Phoenix kept coming back after being down all game. At the end of the game we called a time-out; it was inside of probably about 18 seconds or so.
"... All five players touch the ball. The ball goes to Michael, it goes ... to Scottie Pippen, and as Scottie starts to penetrate he hits Horace Grant, who's the open man. And Horace makes the penetrating move, and the defense collapses, and he hits John Paxson, who has been our most steady shooter over the course of these three championships, and he knocks down a three-point shot.
"It was a beautiful thing. It was a wonderful way to end an attempt to win three championships in a row. And that third one is always a difficult one to win."
On why he writes that basketball is not a game of superstars
"You have to have a superstar on your team to win a championship in this day and age. You may have to have two terrific players to do so. But the reality is, is that they have to incorporate all of their other teammates. We get very focused on that. The NBA has made a real issue about really making these superstars the premium that everybody wants to go to. That's their calling card and their marketing tool. But the coaches at the other end of the sphere are trying to make everyone on the team — even nine, 10, 11, 12[th-best players] — just as important, and have a real role that's meaningful.
"[Those players] are what make the atmosphere, and they are what make the esprit de corps what it has to be to be a genuine team effort. Because if they're pulling the wrong direction, if there's jealousy or there's just not the right attitude, it will eventually work its way into the group. And it's a cancer."
On managing egos and emphasizing fundamental skills
"I think once you're inside the room, you're on the court, you know, everything seems to work out quite OK. I think these players have been brought up in basketball, especially in America right now, where AAU basketball is becoming a dominant force, where they have just an accumulation of talented players — not a whole lot of practice time, and not a whole lot of skill, as far as fundamentals go, but a whole lot of talent and skill as far as shooting and scoring and driving. So this is a different generation that's learned that game and so, as a consequence, a lot of my practices start out with just fundamental work. Learn how to stop with the ball and pivot with the ball and make passes, because that's basically the nuts and bolts of the offense that I worked with."
On how he used a lesson from cellist Pablo Casals to motivate players
"I used to tell the players, 'There's a great musician called Pablo Casals. He was a cello player but he was also a concert conductor. And when asked about, you know, going through a certain piece of music, they said, you know, 'How do you play that?' He said, 'No, no, I don't do that. I start out with the fingering and I go through my fingering for an hour before I start playing a piece of music.'
"And I used to tell players, 'We're going through our fingering. We're going to do our fundamental drills and get ourselves talking basketball language with our body.' "
On whether players rolled their eyes when he mentioned Buddhism or Casals
"They never rolled their eyes, but I know they were going, 'Oh, here he goes again' type of thing. I never saw them rolling their eyes. I got a lot of latitude. The guys gave me a lot of space to work with them and I'm very fortunate for that."